Fred Drake Automotive, formerly Drake’s Body Shop and Fred Drake Salvage, was founded by Fred Drake Sr. of Newark. The body shop was located in Wilmington and specialized in large trucks and fleet services. In 1987, he and his son Fred Jr. opened Fred Drake Salvage in Middletown. After one year in business, they moved to Townsend, where they have evolved into a multi-faceted auto repair and auto recycling facility. The business is now in its third generation and is committed to making customers’ lives easier by being their one stop for all their automotive needs.
“We realize that most times when a customer brings their vehicle to our shop, it is usually because of need, not want, so we try to make the experience a positive one,” says General Manager Kiel Drake, son of Fred Drake Jr. “Because we are on the route to the Delaware beaches, in the summer season we end up helping many out-of-state motorists. I think back to an experience we had growing up where our van broke down on a family trip to Disney World. Stranded in a Shoney’s parking lot in Georgia, an employee of the restaurant and a local mechanic helped my dad get the part we need to fix the van. They kept the rest of us comfortable until the van was fixed. While I was very young when this happened, it has always stuck with me and when someone arrives to our shop from a breakdown, we strive to provide a similar experience.”
Kiel Drake says he tried to find his role when he started 12 years ago as a 21-year-old fresh out of college.
“I know I had to learn,” he says. “As I became more experienced, I began to see opportunities to refine our operations. We were smaller in size and things ran on an understanding that everyone knew what needed to be done. But as we grew, it became apparent that there needed to be formal structures in place to keep things organized.”
Drake says he and his father have adopted the philosophy of “make a decision and if it’s not the right one, we’ll learn from it and try to do better in the future.”
In the early 1970s, Fred Drake Sr. drove the No. 66 car on the NASCAR circuit with the likes of Bobby Allison and Richard Petty.